24/07/2013 13:23 BST | Updated 23/09/2013 06:12 BST

The Worst Weight Loss Mistakes


Weight loss may seem like a simple formula of eating less and working out more; however, you may be unintentionally making mistakes that will hinder your weight loss success. To avoid common slip-ups and makeover your diet, check out these seven worst weight loss mistakes.


Relying on exercise

While exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle and for keeping off those extra pounds, research has found that, when not combined with any dietary changes, exercise does very little in respect to losing weight. Experts believe that many new exercisers even gain weight by overcompensating for their workouts. This is because many of us overestimate the calories burned through exercise and overly increase our calorie intake to fuel or reward our workouts. For maximum weight loss benefits, try to incorporate both exercise and dietary changes into your day.

Going fat-free

Many of us are in the habit of obsessively checking the fat content of products and looking out for 'low fat' labels before deciding if a food is diet friendly. However, opting for low fat products can be a huge dieting mistake as many low fat meals are packed with sugar to compensate. Also, 'reduced fat' labels only indicate that the food is lower in fat than the original product, which may not mean it is low fat at all. It is important to also remember that not all fats are bad for you. Rather than avoiding fat, try to lower your intake of saturated fats and eat more monounsaturated fats (found in avocados, olive oil and nuts) as studies have found that this can help to promote weight loss.

Switching to diet drinks

Just as low fat foods are not always the best choice for weight loss, switching to diet drinks can also inhibit weight loss, or even cause you to gain weight. Research by the Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found that those who consumed diet drinks daily experienced a 70 per cent greater increase in waist circumference than those who drank none, while a previous study showed that obesity risk increased by 41 per cent for each diet drink consumed. It is thought this may be because artificial sweeteners trigger appetite, and they may also inhibit the brain cells that make you feel full.

Getting hung up on your body weight

Many dieters become fixated on the number on the scales; however, this can actually be counterproductive. Not only is your body weight not an accurate reflection of how well you are doing (after all, how do you know how much of that weight is muscle, water or undigested food and how much is fat?), failing to see the results you want can also affect your motivation, lead to emotional eating, or cause you stress which can lead to weight gain. Rather than getting hung up on your weight, learn to relax and enjoy your healthy eating plan, and look out for other positive effects of your diet such as glowing skin, increased energy levels and your clothes starting to fit better.

Being too restrictive

While eating too much food will inevitably cause you to gain weight, eating too little can also be a big dieting mistake. Firstly, not giving your body an adequate amount of food will make it go into starvation mode, causing the metabolism to slow down and the body to hoard fat and calories. Furthermore, making your diet too restrictive and cutting out all the foods you like is unrealistic and will mean you are more likely to give in. It is also pointless to give up these foods unless you plan on giving them up forever, as the pounds will just pile on again once your reintroduce them into your diet.

Giving up at the first hurdle

Many of us take an all or nothing approach to dieting, meaning one small wobble can lead to us ruining our diets and giving up entirely. After all, if you've already broken your diet and eaten a cookie, you may as well eat the whole packet, right? Wrong! If you're serious about losing weight, it's important not to let lapses (big or small) get you down. So, you caved in and ate your body weight in chocolate? Don't dwell on it. Just because you have given into temptation once it doesn't mean that you will again, and it doesn't mean that you have failed. Simply put the past behind you, pick yourself up and carry on.

Overestimating your self control

Although it is great to embark on your diet with a positive and determined mindset, being too confident - and failing to prepare for those moments of weakness - could be your biggest mistake. Don't rely on being too disciplined to fail; instead accept that we all lack willpower at times and try removing temptation to prepare for those weak moments. Clear the cupboards of chocolate, ignore the urge to purchase your favourite treats (even if you claim they are for guests and you are sure you will be able to resist them) and stay away from places and situations that will tempt you to indulge. Make it as difficult for yourself to break your diet as you can.

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